She expects to turn the key and take off, but does your teen understand what it takes to keep a car running well? If she wants the privilege of driving, she needs to take on the responsibility for basic car maintenance. Not only does it teach her responsibility, it also prepares your teen for handling the maintenance herself once she's on her own.
Filling the Tank
The gas is the most basic of maintenance tasks for a vehicle. Your teen needs to know how to fill the gas tank in her car. Show her the basics of pumping gas even before her first time driving solo. Emphasize the importance of checking the gas gauge regularly so the tank doesn't reach empty. Designate a certain level as time to refill. For example, tell your teen she needs to refill the tank as soon as it reaches the halfway mark.
Get your teen in the habit of taking a quick walk around the car before she drives it. This allows her to notice when the tires have low air pressure. Have her study the tires so she knows what they should look like when they are full. Pull out the tire gauge and have her practice checking the tire pressure. The teen years are also a good time for your child to learn how to add more air when the tire is low.
While you're at it, teach your teen driver to change a flat tire. Hopefully she will never need the skills, but it's always a good idea to know what to do so she isn't left helpless on the side of the road.
Her car needs regular oil changes and new filters to run well. She doesn't have to do the work herself, but you can build your teen's car confidence by having her schedule the appointments and take the car to the shop. Go with her so the mechanics don't talk her into expensive repairs she doesn't actually need.
Your teen may be more worried about the radio station or impressing friends with her car, but she needs to learn to tune into the car's normal behavior so she can spot problems. Encourage her to alert you if the car starts handling differently or making a strange noise. These could be signs of a serious problem that makes the car unsafe to drive.
Make a Safe Driver
Teaching your teen the basics of car maintenance helps her stay safe on the road. She knows how to take care of her car and what to do if a problem arises.